Vote Yes on Proposition 34: Death Penalty

The Death Penalty

Proposition 34 is fairly simple: it repeals the death penalty.

This is one of those simple propositions. It’s easily understandable, and (unlike some propositions out there) nobody is trying to trick Californians. The average voter can easily understand what this proposition does.

It’s also why this blog is not going to spend a lot of time on this proposition. The death penalty is something that most people have already made their minds about. It’s either morally right or morally wrong. Nobody reading this is going to change their mind about the death penalty.

The Financial Implications

It’s with respect to the fiscal impact that there is something to be said about Proposition 34.

Let’s start with the bad news. Proposition 34 adds a total of one hundred million in grants to local law enforcement agencies. It does this mainly to attract votes.

This is the type of terrible policy which the proposition system is famous for. One hundred million in spending by Proposition 34, ten billion in spending by a proposition here, five billion in tax cuts by a proposition there – it’s no wonder California has trouble balancing its budget. Ballot-box budgeting like this is disgraceful.

But the good news is that Proposition 34 does save the state a lot of money, if approved. California requires decades of appeals before a person convicted of the death penalty is actually killed. The purpose of this is to make it so that the state actually never executes anybody. Unfortunately, this is expensive; all the appeals cost more than a hundred million per year. Proposition 34 will save that money. And with California’s current financial difficulties, that’s quite helpful.


So this blog endorses Proposition 34 because it saves the state money, despite the proposition’s thick-headed spending grant.

A side note: In making this recommendation, there is no ulterior motive here. With respect to whether the death penalty is morally correct or not, I really have no opinion and don’t know the answer. It’s not an issue that arouses my passion, although it’s understandable that many people are very passionate about this issue. This recommendation is made purely on the fiscal implications of Proposition 34.

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5 Responses to Vote Yes on Proposition 34: Death Penalty

  1. ronni berryman says:

    I haven’t read anything from anyone who speaks about the morality of killing someone else. For those on death row who truly are murderers, you people are no better. No one has the right to take a life! No one! Get your morals right people.

  2. Prop. 34 will NOT save money, but instead COST TAXPAYERS BILLIONS of dollars more in additional trials, prison changes, and escalating health care costs.

    Claims that Prop. 34 will save money are based upon a paper written by a former judge who has been advocating for abolishing the death penalty for decades (neither unbiased nor accurate). A review of these numbers by the Legislative Analyst’s Office concludes that the assumptions supporting these claimed savings “may well be wrong.” Michael Genest, former State Of California Finance Director, found that these “savings claims are grossly exaggerated.” Also, the loss of the threat of the death penalty will substantially increase the total number of murder trials by taking away a major incentive for murderers to plead guilty.

    Prop. 34 ignores the escalating costs of medical care for life-time inmates. Prop. 34 will cost CA taxpayers billions more over the next several years. (It is these huge medical costs that are fueling the attack on life sentences under 3-strikes under Prop. 36.)

    Prop. 34 is DANGEROUS. Experts conclude that Pro. 34 will increase the number of murders in California. Criminals will be more brazen in their crimes without the death penalty. Also, there will be no deterrent for the 34,000 inmates already serving life from killing a guard or an inmate. They are already serving the maximum penalty.

    One of the key methods for “saving” money under Prop. 34 is to move death row inmates into the general population and house them from single-person cells with other inmates. One strong proponent of Prop. 34 admits this is unworkable– the risk of danger posed by mixing the prison population is too great, and would increase costs associated with such an arrangement.

    • inoljt says:

      Here’s what the legislative analyst says:

      In total, the measure would result in net savings to state and local governments related to murder trials, appellate litigation, and state corrections. These savings would likely be about $100 million annually in the first few years, growing to about $130 million annually thereafter.

      Nowhere in the analysis does the phrase “may very well be wrong” appear.

  3. Prop. 34 is not “simple.” It includes several provisions that would have horrible implications for this state:

    The 729 on death row murdered at least 1,279 people, with 230 children. 43 were police officers. 211 were raped, 319 were robbed, 66 were killed in execution style, and 47 were tortured. 11 murdered other inmates.

    The arguments in support of Pro. 34, the ballot measure to abolish the death penalty, are exaggerated at best and, in most cases, misleading and false.

    No “savings.” Alleged savings ignore increased life-time medical costs for aging inmates and require decreased security levels and housing 2-3 inmates per cell rather than one. Rather than spending 23 hours/day in their cell, inmates will be required to work. These changes will lead to increased violence for other inmates and guards and prove unworkable for these killers. Also, without the death penalty, the lack of incentive to plead the case to avoid the death penalty will lead to more trial and related costs and appeals.

    No “accountability.” Max earnings for any inmate would amount to $383/year (assuming 100% of earnings went to victims), divided by number of qualifying victims. Hardly accounts for murdering a loved one.

    No “full enforcement” as 729 inmates do not receive penalty given them by jurors. Also, for the 34,000 inmates serving life sentences, there will be NO increased penalty for killing a guard or another inmate. They’re already serving a life sentence.

    Efforts are also being made to get rid of life sentences. (Human Rights Watch, Old Behind Bars, 2012.) This would lead to possible paroles for not only the 729 on death row, but the 34,000 others serving life sentences. On 9/30/12, Brown passed the first step, signing a bill to allow 309 inmates with life sentences for murder to be paroled after serving 25 years. Life without parole is meaningless. Remember Charles Manson and Sirhan Sirhan. Convicted killers get out and kill again, such as Darryl Thomas Kemp, Kenneth Allen McDuff, and Bennie Demps.

    Arguments of innocence bogus. Can’t identify one innocent person executed in CA. Can’t identify one person on CA’s death row who has exhausted his appeals and has a plausible claim of innocence. See

    • inoljt says:

      I don’t have anything to say to your moral arguments.

      But there will be savings. Right now death penalty inmates are basically prison-in-life inmates, except for the fact that they have extremely expensive decades-long trials delaying their death penalty (this happens because California makes it so that while the death penalty is technically legal, all the appeals take so long that nobody is ever executed).

      So the “life-time medical costs” will be the same because nobody is being put to death anyways. “Decreased security levels” increase savings. Inmates required to work increase money for the state, and most death penalty criminals are just as violent as life-without-parole inmates. There will be less “trial and related costs and appeals” because of “the lack of incentive to plead the case to avoid the death penalty.” If you plead the case, there are more trials and that costs more.

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